Service station

Service Station

How Much Does It Cost to Drive a Car?

When I was little, back in the day when you pulled up to a gas station and they filled your tank for you, I remember the attendant asking my father how much gas he wanted.

“Five dollars,” he said.

I thought this meant he could decide how much he wanted to pay for gas.

I had missed entirely the fact that he meant five dollars’ worth, or however much five dollars would buy, not that he had decided he only wanted to pay five dollars for a tank of gas and the attendant agreed.

Children often misunderstand adult talk.

When I asked him about it later, he explained the concept of asking for how much a fixed price would buy or asking to fill it up and paying for how much the tank would hold.

Understanding more now, not only about how you buy a few gallons or a tank of gas, I also know that it costs more per mile to drive a car than the cost of gasoline alone.

In 2009, the American Automobile Association (AAA) determined that, on average, it costs 70.7 cents a mile for a car that is driven 10,000 miles a year, 54.7 cents a mile for a car that is driven 15,000 miles a year and 45.3 cents a mile for a car that is driven 20,000 miles a year.

These estimates include the cost of gasoline, car maintenance, insurance, license, registration and tags, depreciation, and financing costs (for a five-year loan at 6% interest with a 10% down payment.)

You can download their .pdf report, “Your Driving Costs” by clicking here.

The IRS mileage allowance in 2009 was 55 cents a mile for business travel, but for 2010, with reduced gas prices, it was lowered to 50 cents a mile.

Learning How to Drive

It was only a few years after the misunderstanding at the gas station that my father taught me how to drive.

I thought it curious, since I was scheduled to take driver’s education classes at school in a few months.

He hadn’t offered to supplement my algebra or biology classes.

He knew something I did not yet know.

You don’t get much time behind a wheel in a driver’s ed class, and they don’t really expect to teach you how to start the car and how to enter traffic.

But, my father knew.

His curious explanation to me was, “I don’t want you to take a driver’s education class without knowing how to drive.”

I thought to myself, “Wasn’t that what a driver’s education class was for?”

He spent hours teaching me how to back up in a straight line, a skill rarely taught and often needed.

And, he took the opportunity of family outings to watch me practice driving.

Thanks, Dad. I think of you every time I back up.

And, I miss you.

Happy Father’s Day.

  • How to save on $4 a gallon gas this summer (msnbc.msn.com)